The best part of Luxury Travel Expo 2009 for me was not the suite I stayed at in The Signature at MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas nor the filet mignon and lobster I was treated to at the second annual Awards of Excellence on Tuesday. Instead, it was seeing thousands of industry representatives flooding the trade show floor on Wednesday and hearing something from exhibitors that we haven’t heard from tourism representatives pretty much all year – complete confidence.
In fact, there were destinations making strong luxury pushes at the show for the first time in the form of Croatia and Tanzania, there were cruise companies like Variety Cruises adding new destinations for 2010, there were reports from operators proclaiming Mexico was back in business and there were other companies claiming booking periods were getting back to normal.
We found one such example when chatting with Phil Cappelli, director of national sales, for Tauck World Discovery, and learned that the tour operator is bouncing back from a rough start to 2009. Cappelli told us that clients are going back to their old booking patterns of up to six to seven months in advance, something that hardly any supplier has seen in an economy-stricken 2009.
There was not a single empty seat for either of the show’s general sessions, the seminar’s were packed and the show was as populated as a midtown street in Manhattan. It may have taken close to a year, but the luxury industry is back because it never panicked by slashing rates and waited patiently while weathering the storm. Hopefully, luxury hoteliers and cruise companies take this momentum and ride with it through next year.